North Carolina wins NCAA Championship over Gonzaga 71-65

North Carolina is the nation's top offensive rebounding team and grabbed two on missed free throws to outlast OR in the Final Four, but has had trouble so far getting to the offensive glass.

Monday's national title game may be remembered less for what was seen than what was heard: the steady thunks as balls struck mic'd-up rims and the frequent piercing of the referees' whistles once again halting play. This is nothing new for the Tar Heels.

"I'm not going to talk about the refs", Karnowski said. "That was one of the most satisfying things I've ever had".

Gonzaga (37-2) missed nine consecutive shots in the second half and went 8:27 without a basket, but North Carolina (33-7) didn't have the offense to deliver a decisive run as it remained a one-possession game for nearly all of the second half.

"Isaiah just had a little more bounce to him than whoever was guarding him had", Jackson said. "We broke that glass ceiling everybody said we couldn't get over". In 2011, Kemba Walker's UConn Huskies shot 1 of 11 (9.1 percent) in their championship win over Butler. "This is my last college game win or lose, and I felt like I had to leave everything out there and I'm thanking God I did". UNC also struggled on the inside, most notably Kennedy Meeks, who absolute crushed the Oregon Ducks in the Final Four. "He's my close friend". We have been friends for a long time and I know when it's a big-time moment he will step up. You saw the layup he had. Gonzaga stormed right back with an 8-0 run of its own to make it 43-40 with 14:34 left.

"Coach is superstitious, " Rush said.

Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski knocked the ball from North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks' hands under the basket.

"Almost never saw Mark during the game tonight, because I don't focus on the other coach. He didn't really give that to us, but he was big for us and made a couple of big, big baskets down the stretch". Both teams were in the bonus - FWEEE! - with 14 minutes left, bringing the game's flow and pace - FWEEE! - to a grinding - FWEEE! Nothing could. On this night, however, the Tar Heels avenged it.

"We've been through a lot", Jackson said.

All that madness has led us here: The NCAA national championship game.

North Carolina guard Joel Berry II wears the net around his neck after the championship game against Gonzaga at the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. He went 3-of-10 from the field and was 0-for-6 (!) from the three-point line.

And Meeks wasn't done on defense. The Tar Heels survived an ugly, foul-filled second half to beat Gonzaga 71-65. "I'm a pretty big person so to say I can hide behind someone is a lot, but I hid behind whoever it was in front of me and I got the steal and I tried to kick it up the court as fast as I could".

Berry turned his ankle early in the tournament, and he didn't get to practice the week leading up to the OR game. It was also the second straight trip to the finals for North Carolina, who lost previous year to Villanova on a buzzer-beating three-pointer, 77-74.

Berry scored 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting after battling a bad ankle throughout the tournament.

The Tar Heels started the season with the stated mission of winning the championship that so barely eluded them last season. Trailing by three at halftime, UNC held Gonzaga to 27.6% shooting in the second half.

The Bulldogs entered the national championship game with a almost flawless record of 37-1, reaching the Final Four for the first time in program history.

“That was probably on me, ” Few said.

Then, reports CBS Raleigh affiliate WNCN-TV, thousands more came out to celebrate the win on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Gonzaga outrebounded North Carolina 25-23.

At this point, the Tar Heels know that position all too well, with the wounds from last season still fresh.

But not Monday night. "I can't even. I don't know what it would have felt like if we didn't make it a year ago". Happy that we won. Excited we are national champions. "Any emotion you name, it's going through my head right now". Excited to spend this time with my brothers.

  • Leroy Wright